IMPORTANT NOTICE: In what is one of the more unexpected messages being relayed through a collaboration, the photographer and artist Alessandro “Zuek” Simonetti has joined forces with IUTER to launch a collab called “Shame on You.”
The series of black-and-white images featured on the hoodie and other designs were taken by CCTV cameras in a Chinatown deli, where the owners posted publicly to try to deter petty crime.
As a photographer, he said he has always been interested in alternative ways of collecting images, including ones that don’t come directly from his own camera. During his daily stops in New York City delis, he noticed how posting photocopy printouts of surveillance camera photos, which he considered similar to contemporary “Wanted” signs. They first caught his attention in 2007 — years before the onset of cancel culture and before people started using their smartphones to document what they see as indiscretions.
Aside from having a different aesthetic “part that is fascinating,” Simonetti said, the images convey the “idea of doing justice on your own.” He said, “I stole it basically from the refrigerator of a deli in Chinatown. I walked in and took out the posters. I’ve collected eight or nine so far,” adding there is a recording of himself taking them. In 2007, that was featured in a 2009 exhibition of his work in Milan’s Via Farini.
The “Shame on You” collection includes a reversible bomber jacket, a hoodie, a long-sleeve T-shirt, a T-shirt and printed carpenter pants. It is being sold online and in select stores including IUTER’s outpost in Milan. Photographer Blake Kunin shot the look book on the Lower East Side and in Brooklyn. Retail prices range from $85 to $350.
After 16 years of living in New York City, the artist is now dividing his time between Italy and New York. He knew nothing of the recent news report of a bodega worker, Jose Alba, who has been charged with second-degree murder for fatally stabbing a man who attacked him over a $3 dispute with the man’s girlfriend. With no knowledge of that incident, Simonetti emphasized that the capsule collection was created six more than months ago. An IUTER spokesperson later reiterated that point via email.
However prescient the release might seem, Simonetti said, “I was absolutely not aware of that.…If anything, this [project] for me is [about] highlighting something that is in the DNA of New York. Of course, there is no hidden negative meaning behind this. New York is such a crazy town. It is sad to hear that [news].”
He is working on another New York-centric venture, a book featuring some of the numerous images that he photographed of people playing basketball on the city’s West Fourth Street Courts, which are known as “The Cage.” For four consecutive summers before the pandemic struck, he chronicled some of the street basketball that was played there and is editing the photos for an upcoming coffee table book that “will tell the story of a specific corner that is still really real and alive in New York, and in a way resists change even though all around it all is changing,” he said.
”It will be a basketball book, but it will really be a book about New York City and a specific site, including everything that happens around that court.”